$3.19 Million Grant Revs Up ‘Age-Friendly Health Systems’ Initiative

The U.S. population is aging rapidly—and some experts believe that hospitals and health systems need to change to adequately support it.

That’s the idea behind the Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative, launched by The John A. Hartford Foundation, American Hospital Association, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and other groups, such as provider accreditation body The Joint Commission.

The initiative, which is funded by a $3.19 million, 42-month grant from Hartford, is aiming to expand an Age-Friendly Health Systems model to 20% of the health systems and hospitals and in the country by 2020, Hospitals & Health Networks Magazine reported

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Age-friendly health systems, among other things, have systematic approaches for coordinating care with other organizations; leadership committed to addressing ageism; care teams that are high performing and can demonstrate measurable results for the care of seniors; and strategies to identify, support and coordinate with family caregivers, The John A. Hartford Foundation President Terry Fulmer and Senior Program Officer Amy Berman wrote in a blog for Health Affairs.

The expected outcomes of age-friendly health systems, meanwhile, include preventing polypharmacy; promoting physical independence and function; and addressing common geriatric symptoms such as delirium, incontinence and falls, according to Fulmer and Berman. 

The first year of the Hartford grant will be spent working within small-scale clinical settings to simplify and streamline age-friendly models, and eventually scale up to the size of the four health systems initially participating, Hospitals & Health Networks Magazine reported. These systems include Trinity Health System in Steubenville, Ohio; Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California; Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland; and Providence St. Joseph Health, in seven Mountain, Pacific and Great Plains states.

Currently, there are no plans to incorporate private-pay senior housing into the Age-Friendly Health Systems model—but that could eventually change.

“Right now, there is not a direct focus on the private-pay senior living sector, but the initiative may further evolve over time,” Marcus Escobedo, senior program officer and communications director at The John A. Hartford Foundation, told Senior Housing News.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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